October 8, 2012

Speaking Through and Talking To: Heteroglossia

I have re-read the excerpt of Bahktin's "Discourse in the Novel," the section of Heteroglossia in the novel beginning with "Heteroglossia, once...this process of becoming," time and time again to fully understand this concept of double-voiced discourse. While I understand this notion that this form of heteroglossia serves to express an author's intentions through the speech of a character within the novel, I become confused when Bahktin mentions the refracted discourse of an entire genre. The concept that both the character's discourse is refracted and his or her meaning interrelated to that of the refracted discourse of the author (or narrator), especially in the examples Bahktin provides such as comic, ironic, and parodic discourse, can be understood with unpacking but I fail to understand the discourse of the genre and its interrelatedness to that of the narrator and the character. Perhaps I do not understand well enough of the intentions of a particular genre and that is why I am having such difficulty.

Moving on in my exploration, I better understood the interrelatedness of the narrator's discourse and that of the character's. To say that they both "know about each other," is a sufficient way of explaining that because one is speaking through the other, it is as if they are understanding each other by one another's terms if you will. They each have a "mutual knowledge" or understanding. The character can explain in the language or terms of the society or context they are apart of, not just because the author is writing his or her thoughts and speech, but because it is as if the character is translating the thoughts of the author into the language of the society or context in which they belong. Both the character and the author are holding a conversation with the other, opening discourse if you will, to find and come to better understanding of each of their ideas or points of view, an exchange that I find absolutely amazing. While I have felt that a novel is a commentary from the author on a particular subject in his or her reality or society, I had never considered he or she had communicated with their characters in order to communicate through them.

1 comment:

lmariachami said...

It's an interesting theory, that you believe the author is discoursing with the characters he is creating. So is he using his own voice to create the characters or does he incorporate the voices of others to make the characters? Double-voicing is a complicated term, but it can be understood in many ways. This brings up the theory that maybe the discourse between the author and the characters create a whole new voice. Maybe on day that voice will be used by someone else to create an entire new voice as well. I believe that double voicing is not just two different voices in one text. It has to be many voices in one. Language evolves and is shared from one person to another, and it is entirely possible that double voicing is a result of voice after voice accumulating over time.

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